Sometimes I wish I could give up.

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Dear friends, family and followers,

Sometimes I wish I could just give up.


And I bet you wish I would too sometimes… ;-)


Give up going on and on (and on) about the climate crisis.


Stop banging on about taking climate action.


Quit posting things on social media that make my friends feel anxious, overwhelmed, panicked, uncomfortable, stressed.


Contented Earth | Blog | Climate Crisis | Sometimes I wish I could give up |  Elena crying

I know I seem always happy, always confident, always positive, but there is part of me that is simply desperate to give up. To just stop. To walk away. To no longer feel the despair, the heartbreak and the despondency. (I’ve often ended up in tears talking with my husband about the climate emergency over lunch.) And it would amazing not to feel the awkwardness and social anxiety of bringing up the climate crisis – again…!


There are MANY times I want to stop caring, stop thinking, stop doing ‘the right thing’, and instead spend money I don’t have on a whole tonne of shit I don’t need but want, and jet off on multiple amazing holidays a year. For that moment it feels like it would be utter bliss, that my heart would hurt a little less and the weight of caring, acting and encouraging would be lifted off my shoulders. 

It takes great reserves to keep on keeping on.


It takes great reserves to keep on reaching out, to try to think of new ways to encourage that magic tipping point of social change, 25% of the population[i], to engage and take action – any action. Because that’s what we need for change to happen – 25% of us, 1 in 4 of the population, of our followers, of our friends must act

 Contented Earth | Blog | Climate Crisis | Sometimes I wish I could give up |  Yes Psychology, 25% Tipping Point


(Image courtesy of Yes Magazine, from article The 25% Tipping Point, by Tracy Matsue Loeffelhoz)


Those of us already in the climate movement know that:


  1. There are so many very real and legitimate reasons why most people don’t take action, even though 64% of us are worried about the impact of climate change and 74% of us are concerned about the impact on future generations.[ii]
  2. There was a time when we too weren’t taking any climate action either. In my late 20s I travelled around the world, flying from country to country, spewing out greenhouse gases left, right and centre, even though I knew about was concerned about global warming. Something in my mind wasn’t connecting the dots. 

Why we don’t act.


In fact, one of the biggest obstacles preventing all of us from fully facing, properly addressing and taking urgent effective action on the climate emergency is our very own human psychology.


Contented Earth | Blog | Climate Crisis | Sometimes I wish I could give up |  Human Pyschology


One climate podcast episode[iii] broke down the reasons many people just can't accept what's happening and why this is stopping us from implementing solutions. Antonia from The Harmless Kitchen[iv], summarises this really well:


'Hyperbolic Discounting' – we consider the present to be more important than the future. This was important for our survival in the early days of us. If we’re safe now, let’s not change anything in case it makes it more dangerous. If danger comes in the future, we’ll address that then.
The 'Bystander Effect' – we think that someone else will deal with the problem. There is evidence of people ignoring screams of people being attacked, as they assumed someone else is helping. (Kids suffer from the Bystander Effect when the doorbell rings!)
The 'Sunk Cost Phallacy' – the notion that because we've invested so much in the old ways, we cannot possibly change now. It's why people sometimes stay in bad marriages or terrible jobs when they should probably just cut their losses.
The 'Normalcy Bias' – the most dangerous of all. Our own human experience is so small that we can't understand that historical events or global events could very easily happen to us, too. It massively hinders our ability to react or prepare. 'Bad things don't happen to me. They happen to other people.'
'Confirmation Bias' – in us all. We look for information (or adapt information) so that it fits nicely into our pre-existing beliefs, ideas and points of view. This creates echo chambers which leads to polarisation.
'Hyper Normalisation' – refers to everyone knowing it's all incredibly messed up, but that since no viable alternative vision has been presented to us, we just accept the messed up-ness. We simply don't know what else to do.
'Well Informed Futility Syndrome' – where we are saturated in bad news to the extent that we are completely overwhelmed. We feel helpless and powerless - and so we don't do anything at all.


And believe me, I’m not immune to any of these either.


Battling against what I’m hard-wired to think, feel and (not) do takes a lot of will-power. 

I feel awkward and uncomfortable too.


Contented Earth | Blog | Climate Crisis | Sometimes I wish I could give up |  Elena

When I raise the climate crisis in conversations, please know that I feel awkward and uncomfortable too. I don’t want to make you feel stressed, or guilty, or annoyed, or more overwhelmed. I’m well aware that you’re juggling 1,001 other things in your busy and overwhelmed life, and I’m saying to you “here’s another weighty ball that I’m throwing at you – catch!”, and you have to decide if you can juggle number 1,002 item as well, or if there’s something else you have to drop instead.


I know.


And I hate that I do this to you. I can see that you already have so much on your plate. And I’m asking you to open your heart to something really scary AND I’m asking you to do MORE.


And I’m sorry. 

It’s not fair.


It’s not fair.


It’s not.


It’s not fair that since the 1970s & 80s the oil companies’ own scientists understood the negative impacts of continuing to extract and burn fossil fuels, and very accurately predicted the effects of doing so, but the leaders of the companies went ahead and did it anyway.


It’s not fair that when 700 experts from universities and research bodies across the UK, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) [v], U.K.’s independent Climate Change Committee (CCC)[vi] and almost every single climate scientist everywhere are ALL saying that for the world to have any hope of remaining below 1.5°C warming, there must be no new fossil fuel projects, and the UK government grants over 100 new oil and gas licences!


It's not fair that right now, today, real people like you and me in island nations, low-lying countries and the global south are already dealing with climate change induced devastation – droughts, floods, fires, landslides, crop failures. And to be honest, it’s happening right here in the UK too (to a lesser extent). The climate emergency is happening right now.


It’s not fair that the 40°C Summer we experienced last year will be one of the coolest our children will ever experience. [vii]

Contented Earth | Blog | Climate Crisis | Sometimes I wish I could give up | IPCC Assessment Report 6


None of it is fair.


We didn’t choose for the climate crisis to happen.


But it is. 

We have a limited window of the next few years.


And we have a limited window of the next few years to try to keep global warming to 1.5°C. (We might hit that ‘limit’ as soon as 2027![viii])


And the UK government (and most others around the world) is not doing enough to help prevent the worst-case scenarios and inspire others to take action. Worse than that, they are actively pursuing policies that ensure we can only move in the direction of 3-4°C warming, and an unliveable planet in many places.


And so…


Sometimes I wish I could just give up.


But I can’t.


It’s not in me to give up.


I may have off-days, off-weeks. I may need to pause and take a breath; rest and recover; spend time doing things that feel me with joy; and spend time with the people I love and make me laugh. 

I will carry on.


But once I have rested and renourished, I will carry on.


I’ll talk more, I’ll do more, I’ll read more, I’ll learn more. I’ll keep doing things that feel out of my comfort zone. I’ll keep on having those awkward conversations. I’ll keep on going to protests, and pushing those fears of being arrested to the back of my mind and ignoring those butterflies in my stomach.


Contented Earth | Blog | Climate Crisis | Sometimes I wish I could give up | Elena & Daughter at The Big One


And I’ll keep trying to inspire others to do the same.


I’ll try not to focus on the 85% of people who didn’t click the link to sign a petition in my last email, and I’ll celebrate the 15% of people who did. And hope to keep edging that number towards the magic 25%.


I’ll keep trying to think of new ways to engage more people to take action.


I’ll keep doing lip-sync reels to trending audios on Instagram in the hopes that I’ll reach more people and inspire them to act.


I’ll keep volunteering with Parents for Future[ix] and participating in our ever-growing community of climate-concerned parents.


And I’ll keep on pushing for systemic change – signing every petition I can, emailing my MP regularly, talking about our family’s eco and climate choices to our friends and family.


Because what is the other option?


To give up?


Should I let myself do that?


I’d love to know what you think in the comments.


With understanding, love, resilience and hope from my family to yours,


Elena x




Endnotes & References

[i] &









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  • Clare Snowdon on

    Thank you so much for this blog. I feel it too – not least the social anxiety of talking about it all the time. Really helpful to see the psychology laid out too. It’s so good to know that we are not alone, that although this is hard, there are people like you and those commenting and protesting and signing petitions (and, I am for once going to own this, me) who are not giving up, when it’s so painful to keep going. So thank you for all that you are doing. Very happy to be part of a network of support as we navigate these times.

  • Dani on

    Thank you for showing your vulnerable side, Elena. I have huge respect for what you do, what you stand for and how you inspire others.

    I feel like part of me has given up. I still recycle, avoid disposable products, try to use the car as little as possible etc but very often it’s so much more convenient to go with the other option. I also wanna spend time abroad with my lovely family & friends who live around the world.
    I am always hoping there will be regulations in place at one point that create change but of course there’s always sth one can do.
    Do not give up my friend! With love

  • Kelly Joanne Allen on

    Really feel relieved that I’m. It the only one feeling this. You are not alone and the ripples you are sending out with all your posts do have an impact. I was on a botany course last weekend and two people there were there because I’d posted about it in our community nature reserve Facebook group. I didn’t even know them, but I do now and we have made a deeper connection. We are making a difference by talking about this, sharing and modelling better behaviours. I love this quote from ‘ghosts in the hedgerow’ book :- my job is to carry a bit of leaf. I have to trust all the other ants will also carry a leaf. If they do we will have a nice stream of leaves to make a mulch pile to cultivate fungi to feed our larvae. No one can feed the colony by themselves but we can all carry a leaf.

  • Tess on

    Gosh this resonated with me. Thank you for always being so genuine and articulate and for all your efforts every day. Thank you from my children too x

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